Firstly, sitting a baby up in your stroller is not a race. Parents often encourage their child through milestones because they think it is helpful. We know from research that, provided your child was full term and neurotypical, the best way to support their development is to nurture and facilitate their current phase of development and let them get to the next phase by themselves.
Let’s discuss the signs that indicate your baby is physically and neurologically ready to move out of an Edwards & Co Carry Cot or Newborn Insert Cushion and sit more upright in an Edwards & Co stroller seat.
Showing advanced neck strength and coordination in tummy time: This means a baby can spend extended time on their tummy and can press up onto their hands with straight arms and turn their head from side to side.
Solid head, neck and upper back control: This is important because it avoids risk of any head slumping that may compromise their airways. How can you tell they have this strength? Typically this type of head, neck and upper back strength comes around 3-4 months old, but rather than going by age, let’s give you tools to be able to check this with your baby. There are 2 tests you can use here, they need to pass both tests.Test 1: Hold your baby under their arms out in front of you and slowly rock them side to side. If they can keep their head upright rather than their head flopping around it shows they have strength to hold their upper body and head upright in a stroller and avoid head slumping. Please don’t test this on babies who are under 3 months of age, chances are they won’t be ready yet! Test 2: If you hold your baby in a seated position their chin will be off their chest. See image below:
Rolling should be well established and intentional: A baby should be rolling both ways (front to back and back to front) both left and right confidently. Established and intentional means they can roll to get a toy they want. This demonstrates they are intentionally executing rolling. Rolling builds foundations for core strength and coordination which helps build the strength they need for sitting upright.
Back and core strength and coordination: A newborns spine is a C shape, as they move through motor milestones (tummy time & rolling) their spine starts to change shape and get stronger. This helps a child to handle vertical loading. Ideally their spine would be straight, not C shape when in a seated position. From this we know that their spine, core and back muscles have developed enough strength to hold them upright. This further ensures their spine is developed and strong enough to handle weight bearing in a seated position with the extra movement forces and vibrations put on the baby’s body when in a stroller. How do we check their spine shape? Place them in a seated position and look at them side on, if they aren’t ready to sit upright yet their spine will still be a C shape. If they are ready, it will be straight.
Guidelines for using the Edwards & Co stroller recline settings:
Horizontal: Due to the seat shape, this means that the baby will still be in a reclined position, this is ideal for babies who have just moved out of the Carry Cot or Newborn Insert Cushion and are not yet sitting unsupported (when not in a stroller).
This position is also great if your child falls asleep in the stroller. Keep in mind, when a child falls asleep they lose active muscle tone that helps protect their airways, this is why you would recline them during sleep to avoid any head slumping that might compromise their airways.
This position can be paired with the newborn insert to provide a flatter surface for a baby who is under 6 months old or not showing the signs discussed above.
Reclined: This is great for babies who are sitting upright unsupported (when not in a stroller).
Where possible please do not use the newborn insert in the reclined position, or any other position than horizontal. See Newborn Insert Cushion note below.
Upright: This is great for babies who are well established in movement and sitting unsupported by themselves (when not in a stroller). It is also a brilliant for if you are out and about and need a seat to feed your child solids in. The upright positioning of the seat means they are less likely to choke than if they were in a reclined position.
In summary, the best option with your Edwards & Co stroller for babies until they have the above physical signs is the Edwards & Co Carry Cot or the Newborn Insert Cushion. Having a baby lie flat (where possible) before they achieve the above milestones keeps their body safe, their airways uncompromised and allows them to develop at their own rate. Your child may be better suited to stay in the carry cot for longer than the “typically recommended” 6 months based on their physical development.
Carry Cot or Newborn Insert Cushion?
If I had to pick between the Carry Cot and the Newborn Insert Cushion, I would choose the Carry Cot, unless my baby needed more head support due to rougher terrain such as gravel, or needed to be slightly more upright due to reflux or other any medical conditions.
The Carry Cot is multifunctional and also becomes a great space to keep the baby safe around the house in the common areas during the day, especially for day naps, weekends away or trips to friends and family’s houses.
Newborn Insert Cushion note:
It is tempting when you use the Newborn Insert Cushion to put the stroller seat in the recline setting (the middle recline setting) rather than have the newborn horizontal (flat). If you are using a Newborn Insert Cushion it is recommended that you use it with the stroller seat in the horizontal position ONLY for all the reasons we spoke about above, until your baby is 6 months old OR showing all of the signs they are ready to move out of the Newborn Insert Cushion and into the bucket stroller seat.
There are occasions when a parent finds that their baby (who is under 6 months and not showing the readiness signs) is happier and more content due to reflux or other medical conditions in a slightly more reclined position, you know your baby best, if they need to be reclined then you can make that call, but please pay close attention to the airways if you need to do this.
I hope you enjoyed this and found it informative, if you have any questions pop them below in the comments.